Artificial intelligence (AI) is responsible for self-driving cars and voice-recognition smart phones, but the United Nations this week is refocusing AI on sustainable development and assisting global efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, and to protect the environment.

Starting today in Geneva, the AI for Good Global Summit, which is co-organized by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the XPRIZE Foundation, with support for some 20 UN agencies, brings together key innovators in the field with humanitarian actors and academics.

“Artificial Intelligence has the potential to accelerate progress towards a dignified life, in peace and prosperity, for all people,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The time has arrived for all of us – governments, industry and civil society – to consider how AI will affect our future.”

Mr. Guterres noted that developing countries can gain from the benefits of artificial intelligence, but are also at the highest risk of being left behind. “This Summit can help ensure that artificial intelligence charts a course that benefits humanity and bolsters our shared values,” he underscored.

The opening session of the summit is expected to give voice to the leading minds in AI, with breakout sessions focusing on issues such as sustainable living and poverty reduction.

The summit will run through Friday, with a closing session on “applying AI for good.”

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